May 11, 2015 12:00 PM | John Bridgman
Few genres are as archetypal in gaming as the run and gun side scroller. From Contra to Metal Slug, or Bionic Commando to Gunstar Heroes, these 2D action games have helped define generations and mould players into genre fans for decades. With gameplay that lends itself well to merging with other genres, it's only natural to combine intense running and gunning with the exploration and upgrade-focused mechanics of Metroidvanias. The Greenlit Greedy Guns by Tio Atum embraces both of these genres to appeal to retro shooting fans of all sorts.
Playing as mercenaries for Holocorp, the characters in Greedy Guns are tasked with the usual fare you expect in Metroidvanias. Explore, look for upgrades, use the upgrades to reach previously inaccessible areas. It's formulaic but it functions well, especially when combined with the game's major gimmick; lots of cash. Enemies explode into coins and you quickly accumulate wealth which you can then use to purchase optional upgrades in addition to ones required for advancement. In the current demo, you can unlock a faster firing gun and a grenade launcher. They are distinct from one another enough that, even in the demo state, unlocking guns is fun and provides you with options more than simply acquiring statistically better gear.
The demo runs super-smooth. The mechanics are second-nature, and the controls are as responsive as they need to be to keep the bullets flying at the swathes of enemies. Thanks to consistent sound cues and very well animated, detailed sprites, the game looks and feels great when you blast through groups of creepy crawly baddies and progress your way through the level, shooting, running, double-jumping across platforms and fighting enemies of various size as you continue to get cash and make your way to the boss. The music is high energy and upbeat and helps get you into the action as you run through, and that works well with the sharp visuals, which are bright and have a sort of comic book feel to them, to create a very visceral but fun and up-tempo experience.
The game offers local co-op play, which I was unable to really test, but the game seems like it would be great to share with a friend. The games it draws inspiration from like Gunstar Heroes and Contra both are at their best with a partner, and I don't doubt that Greedy Guns would be the same. At the moment, online co-op is not available and doesn't seem likely to be added.
The game plays fine with a mouse and keyboard, a testament to how smooth the controls are, and in fact might even run better with the mouse since it uses 360 degree firing. Usually 2D sidescrollers feel better with a gamepad, but this isn't the case. Even without a controller you'll be able to play it very well.
There's no word yet as to when our brave mercenaries will begin risking their lives for Holocorp and untold riches, but it has already been Greenlit and will launch on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux. It looks exciting and I expect a lot of 2D action fans are going to enjoy spending some time with Greedy Guns.